I've loved birds forever, since I was a kid and we carried a Golden bird book on every hiking and camping trip.
When I had my own home in the Willamette Valley, I had feeders and birdhouses and kept notes about who visited, and when - here's a 2001 list I put in eBird (x's are used where I didn't indicate a count). I learned to recognize all of the frequent visitors, and bought more and more bird books to help me identify new arrivals and the occasional passer-by.
Then life happened - I got a new job, remarried, moved to a different home... Still loved birds and kept a few feeders, but not the lists and the notes. It wasn't the same.
|Anna's Hummingbird, 2007 Backyard|
Then, four years ago, we found this wonderful home on the Oregon coast -- the only drawback, I thought, was the birds. After all, the only birds on the coast are seagulls (as I told my husband). A year later, not only did I know better, but my brother was in town and out looking at every different one he could see.
A month later, I got myself a camera and a couple new bird books (field guides), joined the Oregon Birders and the Yaquina Birders and Naturalists email listservs and went out to find some of them. I studied the area around our city - looking for birding sites, nature trails and Open Spaces. If you're familiar with my blog, you know about many of the areas (and birds) that I've found (see list at bottom of blog).
I enjoy learning about new birds, I enjoy the process of finding them - I even enjoy it when I don't find any at all. But there are some days when I can't seem to "get" the whole identification thing. Especially the nuances. Gulls and shorebirds are especially tricky (it is reassuring to know that even experts find them tricky). The truth is, I hate not knowing, and even more, I hate being wrong. Reminds me of when I used to take piano lessons - I didn't want to practice, I just wanted to PLAY THE PIANO!
|Selasphorus Hummingbird (Shore Acres)|
So now, my "life list", which doesn't include the birds I saw as a young person, is over 200 bird species. I am moving from Birding 101 to Birding 201. It is exciting, challenging and painful. I exalt over the discovery of a new bird - the joy of accidental discovery is exhilarating! The embarrassment of getting an identification wrong, one I "should" know, is agonizingly painful. And discouraging.
So here I am - excited and discouraged. I know what I had to do to get here.
- What are the next steps?
- What did you do?
- What would you do next?
Share your thoughts with me! I'd love to know.